Erasmus + is an EU Programme in the fields of education, training, youth and sport that will take place in the period 2014-2020. It seeks to address fighting rising levels of unemployment, particularly among young people. Too many young people leave school prematurely and run a high risk of being unemployed. The same risk threatens the high number of adult workers with low skills. In this, there is a vulnerable group of citizens that suffer from unequal conditions and perform worse regarding the average rates: children and young people from migrant backgrounds and minorities. Strong and well-performing education, training and youth systems can help deal with these challenges by providing citizens with the skills required by the labour market and a competitive economy (Erasmus + Programme Guide, 2014: 9).
NAOS - Professional capacity dealing with diversity
The objective of the Erasmus+ strategic partnership would be to strengthen professional capacity in the partner countries (Netherlands, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Estland, Greece, Norway, Lithuania and Portugal) and their respective schools. With the ultimate goal to increase educational attainment and reduce drop out and unemployment among groups of migrant children. The project is called ‘NAOS’, a star that refers to the fundament of a Greek building. By choosing this name, we emphasize the idea that professional capacity is the fundament of good quality education.
A review of the literature (Severiens, Wolff & Van Herpen, 2014) shows that strengthening professional capacity with the aim to stimulate school success among diverse groups of migrant students asks for expertise in five content areas. Urban teachers (or teachers in classrooms with diverse student populations) should first of all know about language development in classes of pupils whose first language is not the language of instruction. Secondly, these teachers should be competent in using didactic resources that support the learning of all their pupils. Diverse classes need different didactic resources and different types of instruction than homogeneous classrooms. If schools and teachers are committed to encouraging the talents of all their pupils they should have knowledge of the use of teaching materials, methods and types of instruction designed for diverse classes. In addition, urban teachers should know about social psychology issues such as stereotyping, teacher expectations and ethnic-identity issues. And finally, urban teachers that succeed in engaging the parents of their diverse pupils as well as cooperate with community organisations on a basis of equality will further support school achievement in their urban schools. The review by Severiens et al. concludes that if schools are committed to increasing achievement among migrant groups, and closing the achievement gap, they should facilitate high levels of professional capacity in these five areas of expertise.